POLICE patrols will be stepped up on Barnsley’s road network in a bid to snare motorists who opt to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the Chronicle can reveal.

South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership (SYSRP) and South Yorkshire Police revealed a combined pre-Christmas crackdown got underway on Monday.

Figures show 61 people were killed or injured in a crash in Barnsley where there was a failed breathalyser test, or the driver refused to take one, over a two-year period.

Department for Transport data also shows drivers or riders impaired by alcohol contributed to 15 crashes in Barnsley last year.

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It comes after a survey of more than 2,000 residents revealed it was the issue people wanted police to tackle the most, followed by drivers who use their mobile phones while behind the wheel and those who use antisocial, illegal vehicles such as off-road bikes, particularly in residential zones.

The bid to clamp down on the issue will result in extra patrols being carried out in a bid to catch drink or drug drivers, according to bosses behind the scheme.

A spokesperson said: “It’s completely unacceptable that every year families face Christmas without loved ones because someone decided to drink or drug drive.

“Even a small amount of alcohol or drugs in your system can affect your ability to drive safely - don’t let your friends and family pay the price.

“Make a plan before you leave the house - if you’re having a drink you need to book a taxi, use public transport or walk home if you can.”

Where a driver tests positive for drink or drugs, they will be taken into custody and could be charged and in court within 24 hours of a positive sample.

Increased police presence will be supported by a four-week awareness campaign that will feature on social media and roadside screens.

A digital billboard will tour high footfall areas across the town, reminding people of the dangers of even one drink when driving.

Inspector Brandon Brown told the Chronicle: “As roads policing officers we see, first-hand, the devastation and pain caused to families when their loved ones are killed or seriously injured in a collision.

“Delivering that tragic news never gets any easier.

“You could lose your job, your family or seriously injure or kill someone.

“There is no failsafe way to tell how much alcohol will put you over the limit, or to convert the limit into how many units you can have.

“It varies on your weight, age, gender, or how much you have eaten before drinking.

“That’s why the only safe amount to drink if you’re driving is nothing at all - not even a drop.

“We know that the majority of drivers do not drink or take drugs and drive and we are thankful for their help in creating safer roads.”