Nova Scotia drivers caught with a blood-alcohol level between 0.05 and 0.08 will lose their licence for at least seven days. (CBC)

Nova Scotia now has tougher penalties for people caught driving after they drink, even if they're not legally drunk under the Criminal Code.

Starting Tuesday, drivers who have a blood-alcohol level between 0.05 and 0.08 — under the legal limit — will lose their licence for seven days, up from 24 hours.

The suspension increases to 15 days for a second offence and 30 days for a third.

These drivers will have to pay a fee of $89.63 to get their licence reinstated.

Transportation Minister Bill Estabrooks said it's unacceptable to have even one beer before climbing behind the wheel.

"We just aren't going to put up with it anymore," he said. "So drivers beware: It begins today."


The Nova Scotia government is using images like this to promote tougher new drinking and driving regulations. ((Craig Paisley/CBC))

Drivers who blow above the legal limit of 0.08 will still face charges under the Criminal Code of Canada.

Endorsed by police

The new regulations are endorsed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving and police, who say drivers often miscalculate how much they've had to drink.

Estabrooks said about 22 people die in alcohol-related crashes in Nova Scotia every year, and the tougher penalties will help make roads safer.

The new regulations, which fall under the Motor Vehicle Act, were passed last fall.

Several provinces have similar laws.