Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said proposals to lower the limit from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg will be brought forward later this year, "with a view to the change taking effect as soon as possible".
The new limit would equate to about one pint of beer or a small glass of wine.
Campaigners hailed the plan as a step in the right direction, but said that a zero-tolerance approach remained their ultimate aim.
Sarah Fatica, general manager at Brake, the road safety charity, said: "We're pleased the Scottish Government is taking heed of the warning that road safety charities and the EU are sending out about the current drink-drive limit. It's certainly a step in the right direction.
"What we really need to see is a strong message to say that not a drop is acceptable if you are behind the wheel.
"Far too many lives are lost on UK roads annually because of drink drivers."
Carole Whittingham, spokeswoman for the Campaign against Drinking and Driving, said: "I'm so glad to hear that somebody is actually grasping the nettle at last. Scotland has highlighted it's got a problem.
"I just wish the Westminster Government would do the same."
The power to change the limit is being handed to Holyrood under new devolved powers in the 2012 Scotland Act, which recently received royal assent.
Lowering the limit to 50mg would bring Scotland in line with other European countries such as Germany, France and Spain.
Mr MacAskill said: "Evidence from across Europe shows that alcohol-related road deaths drop dramatically where the limit has been reduced."