Man Who Went Viral for Virtual Court Appearance for Suspended License While in Car Just Got His Learner's Permit

Corey Harris has – famously – been driving for a while now

Published Time: 10.06.2024 - 20:31:18 Modified Time: 10.06.2024 - 20:31:18

Corey Harris has – famously – been driving for a while now. He just didn’t have a license.

The Michigan man went viral last month after he appeared behind the wheel at his virtual court hearing for driving with a suspended license.

Then, last week the judge overseeing his case said in court that Harris had never even had a license to suspend in the first place.

But on Friday, June 7, Harris took the first steps to finally make his driving legal: He got his learner’s permit.

At 11:11 a.m., Harris is shown smiling and dancing outside the Michigan’s Secretary of State's office. 

“Congratulations! You did it!” a woman’s voice says in the video of the celebration obtained by PEOPLE. 

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“It’s a step in the right direction,” his lawyer, Dionne Webster-Cox tells PEOPLE.

Then referencing her client’s headline-making May 15 court appearance, she continued: “One day he has absolutely nothing, and today he has his learner’s permit. One day does not make the rest of your life, it can change in a day.”

Angela Benander of Michigan’s Secretary of State previously confirmed to PEOPLE that Harris’s driving privileges had been suspended since 2007. 

Although he never had a license, his privileges to get one were automatically suspended when he failed to pay child support, according to Webster-Cox.

Then in October 2023, Harris was stopped by a police officer in an Ann Arbor suburb because the car he was driving had an expired license plate, Webster-Cox says. The officer asked him for his license, which he could not provide because he did not have one. Based on earlier child sup -

port-related paperwork, his license was assumed to be suspended.

So, Judge J. Cedric Simpson was notably perplexed when Harris tuned into his May 15 virtual hearing to discuss the misdemeanor charge from the driver’s seat of a moving car.

(The above video was created following the May 15 hearing. Since that time, more facts related to Corey Harris' case have become known.)

“Mr. Harris, are you driving?” Simpson asked in the recorded hearing.

"Actually, I’m pulling into my doctor’s office," Harris replied. “So, just give me one second. I’m parking right now.”

The judge threw down his pen in visible agitation, rested his head in his hand, and, after Harris parked, ordered him to turn himself into Washtenaw County Jail by 6 p.m.

“Oh my God,” Harris said, his mouth dropping into a wide O.

Harris believed that he had a license – which he had never received – by virtue of the fact that it was suspended, according to Webster-Cox, who in an earlier interview with PEOPLE said Harris was “doing the very best with this situation, to make everything right.”

Webster-Cox tells PEOPLE that after Harris' admittedly embarrassing few weeks in the spotlight, his story holds a lesson for everyone: “Don’t give up.”

“This is going to be a feel-good story,” she adds.

Harris can return to the Secretary of State’s office July 7 for a road test and the chance at a driver's license, according to his Michigan Temporary Instruction Permit, a copy of which was obtained by PEOPLE.

He is scheduled back in court August 7 at 9 a.m., according to his lawyer, who said that with a license, his misdemeanor charge may be downgraded to a civil infraction.

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