- Associated Press - Monday, December 7, 2015

WEST JORDAN, Utah (AP) - A former Utah school bus driver who pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor DUI charge after prosecutors said she drove a bus full of children erratically down a busy stretch of highway has been sentenced to 10 days in jail.

Lycia Kae Martinez, 40, of Clearfield, told a judge she was sorry that she drove 73 children and adult chaperones on a field trip after she took a combination of prescription drugs.

“She’s just grateful no one was hurt,” said her lawyer, Bradley Schofield. The medications were prescribed by her doctor and she was also suffering from a migraine at the time, he said. “It wasn’t like she was out drinking and driving, she had no idea she was impaired,” he said.

Martinez was arrested after people on board the bus called to report that she had veered out of her lane on Interstate 15 and had nearly collided with other vehicles in October 2014, police said.

A Utah Highway Patrol trooper pulled over the bus in Draper, about 40 miles from where she started in Davis County.

Toxicology reports showed Martinez had clonidine, which is used to treat high blood pressure, and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax in her system at the time of her arrest.

Prosecutor Breanne Miller asked the judge to give her 73 days in jail, one for each person aboard the bus. The defense asked for the two days of home confinement that officials recommended in a presentence report.

Judge William Kendall imposed 10 days in jail, along with two years’ probation and a fine of about $1,400. He denied her request to serve the time in a work release program closer to her home.

“It was an extremely dangerous situation,” he said.

Police said Martinez could have caused a major accident on the southbound highway with five lanes and a speed limit of 75 mph.

The fifth- and sixth-grade students on the bus that day came from four different schools in the northern Utah cities of Layton and South Weber. They were headed to a student council conference at Brigham Young University.

No one was hurt, and the students appeared oblivious to the situation when officials arrived and handed out pencils as the kids waited for another bus to arrive and shuttle them to the conference, police said.

Martinez had worked for the Davis School District for six years without incident before the DUI.

She declined to comment to reporters outside the courtroom, but Schofield says that his client has since found a new job at a furniture store.

“I don’t think she’s going to be driving a bus anymore,” he said.

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