01/05/2011 01:31 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

School Bus Driver Betty Burden Pleads Guilty To Driving Drunk With Kids On Board

Veteran school bus driver Betty Burden pleaded guilty Wednesday to driving her seven-mile suburban Chicago route, with 45 students aboard, while heavily intoxicated.

The Mount Prospect, Illinois driver registered a blood-alcohol level of .226 at the end of the route, nearly three times the legal limit for regular drivers of .08. Under zero-tolerance laws, it is illegal for school bus drivers to have any alcohol in their systems.

Burden was arrested after the incident, and fired shortly thereafter. Her lawyers originally said they would contest the charges of driving under the influence, but at today's hearing at the Rolling Meadows courthouse, she pled guilty to aggravated drunk driving, admitting to drinking vodka and orange juice before picking up the Lions Park Elementary students.

At most, Burden could face three years in jail for the offense. The minimum sentence for an aggravated DUI is probation. Her sentencing hearing is set for January 26.