School Bus Driver Charged with DUI

Bartender says woman often came into bar with husband but never drank

By BJ Lutz
|  Wednesday, Mar 10, 2010  |  Updated 11:37 PM CDT
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A northwest suburban school bus driver was charged with DUI on Tuesday after registering nearly three times the legal limit on a breath test shortly after dropping off about 50 students, police said.

Betty A. Burden, 54, was pulled over in her empty bus after a colleague of hers called the transportation coordinator for the school district to report that Burden's breath smelled of alcohol.

Mount Prospect police Sgt. Michael Eterno stopped the bus on River Road, just north of Euclid Avenue.  He said he immediately smelled alcohol on Burden's breath and conducted field sobriety tests, which she failed, according to a police report.

No alcohol was found on the bus, though Eterno said Burden admitted to drinking.  He arrested her and took her to the police station, where she registered a .225 blood alcohol content, which is nearly three times over the legal limit.

One parent that works at an area bar said she was shocked at the allegations. 

"I work at a bar.  She's never had a drop to drink there when I was there,"  said Tracy Kanelos, whose son, Hunter, used to ride Burden's bus.

Burden worked for the district as a bus driver from 1991 to 1999.  She then worked worked in a doctor's office but returned to the district as a bus driver in August 2008, officials said.

Burden had a "clean disciplinary history and has passed each of the random drug tests we require of all of our bus drivers," said Superintendent Elaine Aumiller in a prepared statement.

District officials said Wednesday that Burden has been suspended without pay and it will be recommended that she be terminated, the Daily Herald reported.

Burden, of the 1400 block of Park Dr. in Mount Prospect, was charged with one count of aggrevated DUI , a Class 4 felony, for being drunk while driving passengers under 18, Cook County State's Attorney's office spokeswoman Tandra Simonton said.

She was ordered held on $10,000 bond by Judge Joseph Urso and a preliminary hearing was set for April 1 at the Rolling Meadows Courthouse, Simonton said.

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