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School-bus driver admits driving drunk with a busload of kids

Betty Burden pleaded guilty Wednesday aggravated drunk driving.

Betty Burden pleaded guilty Wednesday to aggravated drunk driving.

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Former Mount Prospect school bus driver Betty Burden admitted Wednesday she was drunk last March when she navigated a nearly seven-mile route to deliver about 45 grade-school students to their homes.

Burden, 55, now faces up to three years in prison after pleading guilty to felony drunken driving charges during a brief hearing in Rolling Meadows.

The veteran driver was charged after police said she failed a field sobriety test, then racked up a .226 blood-alcohol level during a breath test — nearly three times the .08 percent standard for drunk driving.

Burden admitted drinking vodka and orange juice before driving the children home from the Lions Park Elementary School in the northwest suburb, police said following her March 9 arrest.

She was subsequently fired by Mount Prospect District 57, as was her supervisor, who had checked on Burden after getting a report that she might have been drinking, but did not immediately contact police.

Last fall Burden unsuccessfully tried to have the DUI charges dismissed, a ruling that ultimately led to her guilty plea Wednesday.

Burden, who remains free on bond, declined to comment after the hearing.

But defense attorney Ernest Blomquist said he will ask that Burden be placed on probation, noting that she had never been arrested previously and has an outstanding driving record.

“Her background is exemplary,” he said.

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