State Sen. Fuller Clark: I’m off the road, for now
By MARK HAYWARD New Hampshire Union Leader
MARTHA FULLER CLARK
State Sen. Martha Fuller Clark has voluntarily stopped driving and won’t resume until doctors can determine the cause of a blackout that preceded a Friday night automobile accident that injured a pedestrian, her lawyer said Monday.
The announcement came after Portsmouth police said they will likely ask the state Division of Motor Vehicles to review the driver’s license of Fuller Clark, who is 70. The accident took place on Maplewood Avenue in Portsmouth. It is the second automobile accident for Fuller Clark in the last two months.
Fuller Clark’s lawyer, Jack Sanders of Porstmouth, said Fuller Clark has not driven since the accident, and her physician is undertaking a medical evaluation.
“She has no plans on driving until she gets to the bottom of the medical issue,” Sanders said. Eleven years ago, Fuller Clark said she had been diagnosed with sleep apnea, after being videotaped sleeping while debate took place on the floor of the New Hampshire House.
Fuller Clark is the first vice chairman of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, the second highest position in the party structure. She has held elected positions in the New Hampshire House or Senate for most of the last two decades.
On Monday, Portsmouth police Capt. Frank Warchol said police will likely ask for the DMV license review and not seek criminal charges against Fuller Clark.
Police can ask for an administrative review of a license following a serious accident or for medical reasons.
According to DMV spokesman Gregg Champlin, the review is handled out of the office of the director of the DMV. Potential outcomes include license suspension, a re-test for a license, a request for a medical evaluation or a formal DMV hearing, he said.
Meanwhile, the pedestrian struck in the accident on Maplewood Avenue said Clark shouldn’t be allowed to drive.
“I think it’s negligent to drive ... when you know there’s something wrong with you,” Kittery, Maine, resident Carla Dow told Seacoast Online. Her comments were confirmed Monday by her companion, Paul Norris.
Norris said Dow, 67, is sore everywhere and did not want to speak to reporters.
Sanders said Fuller Clark and her husband regret the accident and the injuries to Dow.
In the earlier accident, Fuller Clark’s car jumped a median curb and hit a stay-right sign, Warchol said. That accident took place Sept. 8 on Greenland Road. No ticket was issued, and no other person or vehicle were involved, police said.
Sanders said that accident took place after Fuller Clark had exited Interstate 95. He said construction had taken place in the area, and Fuller Clark may have found it confusing.
Warchol said the Friday accident took place after dark. Dow was treated and released from a local hospital. The Fuller Clark automobile, a 2010 Audi, was driven away after the accident.
Sanders said Fuller Clark was not hurt. He said Fuller Clark was returning from Bretton Woods and had been at the wheel six hours that day. Three days before that, she had taken a Red Eye flight back home from San Francisco, Sanders said.
“When I take a long-distance, overnight flight, it takes me a few days to get readjusted. That may or may not have played into what happened,” Sanders said.
Fuller Clark is a member of the Democratic National Committee, according to the state Democratic Party website.
She is currently serving her fourth two-year term as a state senator representing Portsmouth. She was a state representative from Portsmouth from 1990 to 2002. In 2002, she ran for the U.S. House from the First Congressional District, but lost to Republican Jeb Bradley.
She is the wife of retired physician Dr. Geoffrey Clark, and they have raised three children.